Yu Darvish's first stateside season has been equal parts exhilarating and exasperating. Darvish has struck out 25.8% of batters faced, which ranks behind just Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey among qualified starters. Yet he has also walked hitters 12.6% of the time -- only Edinson Volquez, Carlos Zambrano and Ubaldo Jimenez has issued a higher percentage of free passes.
As we've documented before, Yu hasn't been as control-challenged as you might think. Rather, he has had difficulty getting calls on borderline pitches. Now that we're five months into the season, it has become clear that umps aren't calling many strikes on Darvish's glove-side pitches. He gets an above-average number of called strikes and has an above-average strike rate on arm side pitches. But to the glove side, he's getting precious few calls and has thrown strikes just over 46% of the time:
|Pitch Location||Called Strike Rate on in-zone pitches taken||Called Strike Rate on out-of-zone pitches taken||Overall Called Strike Rate||Strike Pct.|
|To Arm Side||84.9||15.2||34.8||62.2|
|MLB Avg. for right-handed SP||84.7||16.1||32.5||61.8|
|To Glove Side||62.2||1.3||17.3||46.3|
|MLB Avg. for right-handed SP||71.8||5.9||24.7||53.8|
Here's Darvish called strike rate on glove-side pitches, compared to the average for righty starters. Low-and-away seems to be the biggest problem spot:
Darvish's called strike rate on glove-side pitches
Average called strike rate on glove-side pitches for RH SP
Breaking it down by pitch type, Darvish has a 19.4% called strike rate on glove-side fastballs (30.5% average for righty starters), 13.5% on sliders (17.4% average) and 10.9% on cutters (21% average). Overall, Ervin Santana and Edwin Jackson (two other slider specialists) are the only righties with a lower called strike rate on glove-side pitches:
Lowest called strike rate on glove-side pitches among right-handed SP
|Pitcher||Called Strike Rate on Glove-Side Pitches|
This is quite the quandary for Darvish. He has to work both sides of the plate, lest he become too predictable, but the fastballs and especially sliders and cutters that he throws to the glove side lead to hitter-friendly calls and lots of walks. Getting more love on the glove side would go a long way toward Yu living up to the hype.